By Steve Brennan
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Navigating your way through the music industry as an independent artist isn't easy. The road is typically filled with more negative experiences than positive ones and opportunities to get your music heard by the masses aren't always readily available. At times, it seems like getting radio play as an indie musician is next to impossible. If you're hoping that a mainstream station is going to play your songs for free, forget it.
If it seems like I'm suggesting that payola, along with its friendlier and harder to detect sibling, plugola, still exist at local radio stations, that's because I am. They do. And there are countless artists from all genres right here in South Florida who can tell stories for days about program directors practically laughing them out the door unless they had enough money to hold the P.D.'s attention. Quite often, it's not about the music, it's about the moolah. And that's just radio. The shadiness of certain record labels, producers, and the like is enough to make some entertainers without major backing go crazy trying to break into the industry that they love.
Enter a small corps of young, dedicated local entrepreneurs who are trying to change all that. They've recently created a new radio program designed specifically to provide an outlet for indie musicians who want to get their music heard. Welcome to The Movement Radio, a new Internet broadcast based out of Pompano Beach. You can find the site at blogtalkradio.com/themovementradio. Whether you're an artist looking for exposure or just a music lover tired of the monotony of mainstream radio, the music played on the station, a good deal of which is local, is all well put together and professional. They're not playing second-rate garbage or thugged-out raps full of unnecessary cursing. The goal is to take well-composed music that just hasn't hit the right ears and give it an outlet.
The idea was first conceived last January by Shermon Hunter, a 27-year-old disease management specialist by day and R&B singer by night who knows first-hand how challenging life as an indie artist can be. According to Hunter, he's had a love-hate relationship with music for years. Essentially, he loves the music, but the business side of the industry always seems like it hates him. He's been grinding it out in South Florida for the past nine years, since he moved here from Fort Myers, and he has had nothing but pitfalls along the way. Fed up, he's assembled a small team consisting of Nelson Diaz, Bridgette McLean, and Lindsey Lopez, who now host a show on BlogTalkRadio once a week dedicated solely to showcasing the music of independent artists. "When we say 'independent,' we're talking about someone who isn't signed," McLean says. "Someone who has real talent and is out there paying for their own studio time and promotions and just needs that extra push." If that describes you, the folks at The Movement Radio want to hear from you.
"We really want to get the word out that there's a radio program right here in South Florida that's doing this," said Hunter during a recent interview at his Pompano Beach condo, which also doubles as headquarters for The Movement Radio.
In the short time they've been on the air, they've interviewed and played the music of many artists; some are big names, others need exposure. Boca Raton's Cat Shell was just on the show last month and seems happy about what they're trying to do.
"I definitely think they're trying to support the local scene and I appreciate [Hunter's] efforts," Shell said recently. "They played my songs and promoted them on their website and they were throwing out my MySpace during the broadcast. They're still developing their audience but I'm glad they exist."
Of course, they've got some kinks to work out, and BlogTalkRadio isn't the best host site in the world. That's why by this summer, The Movement Radio hopes to have its own website where they'll be able to broadcast.
They're also starting a "million-dollar artist" campaign. "We're taking donations from every artist that we interview," McLean said. "And by the time we reach $1,000,000, we're going to do a contest, let listeners call in and vote, and take an artist that we feel has enough marketability and invest that $1,000,000 into their career."
That sounds like an idea that's too good to be true, but the crew is very serious about it.
"If we're starting something called 'The Movement' and we're helping independent artists, why not show how committed we are?" McLean said. "Actions speak louder than words, right?"